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Where's the Salt?

Sodium is a mineral that is found in salt and many other foods. Most of the sodium we eat is added to food, especially: processed, packaged, ready to eat, fast food and restaurant food.  All types of salt are high in sodium - table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, gourmet salt, and smoked salt.


What can sodium do to my health?

Eating too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, which can increase the risk for developing:

  • stroke
  • heart disease
  • kidney disease

The good news is that there are small steps you can take to cut back on the amount of salt you eat which can lower your risk of developing diseases.


High Sodium Foods

All types of salt are high in sodium. Over 75% of the sodium we take in comes from processed foods such as:

bread
  • bread
  • deli meats
  • soups
  • tomato and vegetable juices
  • pasta dishes
  • cheese
  • pizza
  • breakfast cereals
  • bakery products

How much sodium do I need?

We eat too much sodium.  Most of us eat 3400mg/day which is more than double the amount we need. Adults need only 1500 mg of sodium a day and children need even less.

Recommended Daily Sodium Intake

Age

Adequate Daily Sodium Intake (AI)

Upper Daily Sodium Limit (UL)

Children aged 1-3 years*

1,000 mg

1,500 mg

Children aged 4-8 years

1,200 mg

1,900 mg

Teens 9-13 years

1,500 mg

2,200 mg

Adults 14-50 years

1,500 mg

2,300 mg

Older adults aged 51-70 years

1,300 mg

Older adults over 70 years

1,200 mg

  • Salt should never be added to food for children under the age of 1 year.

(Government of Canada, 2012. Reducing Sodium in Your Diet.  The reproduction is a copy of the version available at www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/sodium/basics-savoir-eng.php)

How do I know how much sodium is in my food?

Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed food so choose fresh more often. When choosing processed food, look at the Nutrition Facts label.  Choose the food with the lowest %DV.

Look for products that say:

  • Sodium free
  • Low sodium
  • No added salt
  • Reduced sodium

What can I do today to reduce my sodium while eating at home?

  • Eat smaller amounts of favourite traditional foods/sauces that are high in sodium (e.g. soy sauce, pickles, cheese, olives, Worcestershire sauce and BBQ sauce) or shop for low or no sodium versions.
  • Rinse and drain canned vegetables, peas, lentils, olives, and beans.
  • Use little or no salt when preparing your food and at the table.

What can I do today to reduce my sodium at the grocery store?

  • Choose fresh food prepared without salt (e.g. fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats.)
  • Choose unprocessed and less processed food more often. These foods are usually found in the outer aisles of the grocery store.
  • Read food labels and compare products for sodium content. Click here to learn how.
  • Shop for low sodium bread and cereals. Try whole grains like oatmeal, whole grain couscous, bulgur, quinoa, millet, wild rice or barley instead of a serving of bread.
  • Look for products that say sodium free, low sodium, no added salt, reduced sodium
  • If you’re having trouble finding lower sodium products, ask your grocer to provide more options.

What can I do today to reduce my sodium while eating out?

  • Most restaurants/fast food places have nutrition information for menu items. Ask to see the information before ordering your meal and choose a lower sodium option.
  • Ask the server to highlight healthy options that are low in sodium.
  • Ask for no sauces, gravies and condiments or ask for them on the side and use only a small amount.
  • Click here for more information about healthy dining out.

What can I swap in my diet to lower my sodium intake?

Try this...

Instead of this…

Tomato paste or low sodium tomato sauce

Tomato sauce

Make a sandwich with natural peanut butter, eggs, roasted meat (roast turkey, chicken or roast beef) more often

Deli meat (e.g pepperoni, salami, bologna)

Fruit and vegetables, unsalted nuts, unsalted popcorn, unsalted pretzels

Salted snack foods: potato chips, pretzels

Lemon juice, salsa, shaker filled with variety of herbs

Salt for flavouring

Eat at home or pack a lunch from home for work or school

Eating out at a restaurant or cafeteria

Fresh garlic, fresh onion

Dried, minced or powdered garlic salt/onion salt

Low sodium soup, broth, or stews; or make your own

High sodium soup, broth or stew

Low sodium version of your favourite bottled salad dressing, make your own salad dressing, use vinegars, lemon/lime juice, herbs and spices.

Bottled, prepared salad dressing

Choose bread and breakfast cereals that are low in sodium (less than 5%DV)

Bread, Breakfast cereal

If you are worried about sodium in your diet talk to your healthcare provider today.

Find out how sodium savvy you are!

Take this quick quiz.

Where can I find more information?

Resources

For further information: